The map of your membership base is changing. As for-profit businesses uncover new opportunities in emerging markets around the world, associations must look to serve the educational and networking needs of professionals outside North America. However, implementing an international growth strategy is no easy task. From the basics of language barriers to understanding the complexities of labor and tax laws in different countries, the road toward engaging more members is paved with plenty of potential stumbling blocks.
To understand how some organizations are successfully navigating their ways around those potential problems, the ASAE Foundation and MCI Group surveyed 330 associations. It’s the first step in a new research series that examines how to develop and sustain growth outside the United States, and the findings highlight some key characteristics that define “growers”, the term that ASAE uses to refer to associations that are experiencing growth in international membership and revenue.
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1) Find A Friend In A High Place.
Growers aren’t just opening offices in new destinations or taking their meetings to new markets. Many of them are forging powerful partnerships with the local governments, too.
“Some associations realize the need to improve market access through building strong long term relationships with government entities responsible for choosing which non-U.S. standards, codes, or generally accepted practices could be accepted for recognition in their country,” the report states.
The survey found that growers are twice as likely to pursue partnerships with governments than non-growers.
2) Take Your Board Past Traditional Borders.
Growers aren’t just concerned with how other countries are governed. These associations are equally concerned about who’s making decisions within their own governing bodies. Sixty-four percent of growers have Board members from outside North America while just 32 percent of non-growers have international representation.
3) Hire Some Help.
If your organization is serious about worldwide success, expanding its reach will require more than asking existing employees to add some responsibilities to their job descriptions. Two-thirds of growers have at least one full-time employee in their headquarters offices dedicated solely to international activities.
“Having staff back at headquarters who work to develop in-market partnerships and support development of locally relevant products and services is another practice that can better improve growth potential,” the report states.
Haven’t placed “entering emerging markets” on your organization’s priority list yet? Now is the time. By 2025, the World Bank estimates that more than half of all global growth will come from these six economies: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Russia.
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The complete report includes many more insights that can fuel your organization’s global strategy. Click here for access. The report is available for free to all ASAE members.